Adaptive farming to reduce risk
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CTA. 2003. Adaptive farming to reduce risk. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/04. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57212
A researcher from an international crop research institute in Nairobi explains how new crop varieties are helping farmers to adapt what they plant to suit variable rainfall patterns.
Cue: Farmers who grow rainfed, rather than irrigated crops, have always been heavily dependent on the weather. It?s one of the things that can make farming more risky than many other jobs. However, in recent years the risks seem to have been increasing. In many areas, for example, the rainfall pattern has become less reliable, with a much greater contrast between good and bad years. Being able to adapt to this variability in rainfall is likely to become increasingly important for Africa?s farmers, but how can they do this? The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is currently working to develop both improved crop varieties and farming methods to enable farmers to respond to the demands of good and bad rainfall. Dr Barry Shapiro, spoke to Eric Kadenge about the work. IN: ?There are two aspects? OUT: ?therefore improve their livelihoods? DUR?N 4?00? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Barry Shapiro speaking to Eric Kadenge. Transcript Shapiro There are two aspects of climate change. One is the long run climate change in temperature and rainfall especially and then also climatic variability which most farmers are interested in. Of course they are affected by the long run climate change and over time their production systems, their production methods evolve to adapt to long run climate change. But they are most concerned by what we call climatic variability and extreme climatic events like drought. So we focus mostly on how farmers can adapt better to short run climatic variability and we do this in a number of ways. We work with farmers in what we call adaptive farming or response farming and we try to use weather information so that we can come up with better adaptive recommendations for technology use, for farming methods. This can run all the way from production methods to varieties of crops. Kadenge Now I would like to know in which specific areas in Kenya for example, are you carrying out these activities and what kind of changes have occurred in those areas? Shapiro ICRISAT focuses on drier areas and in Kenya therefore we work in Western Kenya. In Western Kenya, as you know, the rainfall has been declining and becoming more variable which means that there have been more extreme events, in this case the most significant is drought. And at the same time, really to deal with drought, we have to help farmers not only to deal better with the very dry conditions but also very good rainfall years. And we develop for instance, new improved varieties of cereals for instance, and legumes of differing duration. This means that we work with both short duration varieties and long duration or long season varieties, so that in good years, when we can predict good years, the farmers can plant these long season varieties that respond better to inputs and farmers in this way can really increase their production in the good years, so that they can store more grain and have this available in bad years. This helps them to manage climatic risk and to improve food security. We also provide them with better short cycle varieties so that in very bad years, with these varieties that mature quickly, that they can get some production at least. So in this way we help them to manage climatic risk. Kadenge And now that climate change seems to be a continuous thing, are there any other things that you are going to be doing in future as we continue to experience climate change especially when we are talking about the small scale farmer? Shapiro Well there is a number of things. We are working on using climatic information better to develop adaptive recommendations, technology recommendations for farmers. When we can predict the season then we can advise farmers whether to use fertilizer, if to use what types of fertilizer, when to apply fertilizer, that is one example. We can advise them on land preparation techniques, things of that nature. So this really helps farmers to manage the risk of farming better. This improves their ability to cope with extreme events, to manage the risk of farming and to increase their incomes and therefore improve their livelihoods. End of track.